I’ve just started having sex with a regular partner, but sometimes I find it difficult to stay focused because my mind is elsewhere, or I feel a little nervous about whether what I’m doing is right. How can I communicate better during sex? Any tips appreciated!
Alex*, 17, Liverpool
Hey Alex! Communication is such an important part of sex, so it’s great to see that you’re thinking about how you can establish a real connection with your partner. Sex is like having a conversation with someone, without the need to actually speak (although, of course, this is totally fine to do too). As cheesy as it sounds, communicating during sex is essentially like having a conversation – but with our bodies.
Consider some of the conversations you’ve had in the past week (I’m talking about actual conversations rather than physical ones). Which ones have stuck out for you as the best? For me, a good conversation is all about trust, honesty, directness, eye contact and focus (no distractions from beeping phones or people around you).
In addition to this, a good IRL conversationalist can bring new ideas to a chat and communicate them to the other person clearly, leading to other topics and more interesting subjects.
If you’re able to apply that engagement and curiosity to the physical conversations you’re having with someone, you’re way more likely to end up with huge smiles on your faces afterwards. Being confident in knowing what you like – and being able to assert those desires – is something you’ll keep learning as you go through life, but there’s no better time to start than the present.
So, here are some things you can try to experience the best possible connection with your partner.
Avoid distraction. The worst mood killer is a phone ringing, a notification pinging or text message coming through just as you’re getting down to business.
Put your phone on silent, or better still, leave it in another room entirely so your eyes aren’t darting off to that lit-up screen when you should really be focusing on what’s in front of you. Which leads me on to…
Eye contact. If you find eye contact a little bit awkward IRL, maintaining a gaze when you’re mere inches away from another human being can seem a bit weird at first.
However, what eye contact does neurologically (aka in your brain) is tell the other person that you’re focused and paying attention to them. Likewise, if you’re trying to lock eyes with the other person but their gaze is elsewhere, ask them if they can look at you.
If they continue to avert their eyes, it might be worth taking a five minute breather and having a chat about how you’re both feeling before taking things any further. It won’t kill the mood to do this – it’s all a part of consent and making sure both parties are enthusiastically into the between-the-sheet action.
Be honest. The great thing about communicating during sex is the opportunity for openness between both parties.
If you’re after those true sparks, be honest about how you’re feeling. If you’re enjoying it and something feels good, don’t be afraid to tell them so (this’ll give your partner a confidence boost and will hopefully mean they’ll do more of that in the future, so everyone wins *insert raised eyebrow emoji*).
On the other hand, if something is uncomfortable, or you don’t feel ready to do something, just say so. Your partner should be able to pick up on physical cues if you’re not into something, but a firm ‘I don’t like that’, or ‘can we try [another thing?]’ is a good way to carry on the activity without totally stopping the action. As we always say here on Fumble, consent is an enthusiastic yes from everyone involved, meaning you’re also totally allowed to fully put a stop to the action if you’re no longer into it.
Talk about it. As I mentioned earlier, if you find it a little hard to tell the other person how you’re feeling during sex, take a five-minute break to talk about it.
If you’re happy to carry on, you can still start that conversation afterwards, once you’re both clothed. (In fact, if you do want to press pause on the whole thing halfway through, it sometimes helps to quickly pull some clothes on while you do so. I certainly feel more able to talk openly if the urge to continue proceedings isn’t quite so strong).
Try to be as honest and open as you can, but also know it can be hard for everyone – no matter what their level of sexual experience – to articulate how sex makes them feel.
Your interest in making sex a communicative and positive thing is a sure sign that you’re going to be just fine at it. Knowing what you want can take time, but be direct, be honest, and – of course – enjoy yourself.
*Names have been changed.
Want to ask us a question? If you’re curious about porn or penises, or wondering about condoms or consent, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks to Rhian Jenkins for the featured illustration!